• Thu. May 12th, 2022

Roadtrip for rockhounds: the classic geology guide is updated | Wild montana

ByKeith M. Jones

Jul 9, 2020

Dog-eared copies of the bright yellow “Roadside Geology” have been stuffed under car seats and in backpacks for decades. The new edition is expected to fascinate this old fan base while inspiring new readers to explore one of the country’s most geologically complex states. Part of the improvement comes from a more concise organized format, with introductory sections for each region noting general highlights before delving into specific features along a given highway. And part of it comes from the significant scientific advancements geologists have made over the past 50 years to explain the importance of these formations.

Hyndman taught geology at the University of Montana before recently retiring, while Thomas currently teaches the same subject at the University of Montana-Western at Dillon.






A beige diabase sill over 780 million years old was pushed to the top of the gray belt supergroup formation when the Rodinia supercontinent ruptured in this Clark Fork River cut at the site of the ancient Milltown Dam.


Rob chaney



Hyndman compared the book to his introductory geology lessons. Students would come to expect to learn more about the rocks.

“In fact, it’s the story of our planet and how processes and environments have changed over time,” Hyndman said. “As far as our religious friends are concerned, this is the greatest story ever told.”

For Thomas, this time element was the most fascinating part. A short distance from his office at the University of Montana-Dillon is a casino, which sits below a low cliff called Clark’s Lookout. The name commemorates the time when explorer William Clark mentioned the use of the highest point to scan the landscape on the Voyage of Discovery in 1805.


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